Snellville Spirit New Year's Edition 2022

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Snellville, Where Everybody’s Proud to Be Somebody

NEW YEAR

SPECIAL EDITION

NEW YOU!

Challenge yourself to bring about great changes in your life.


FOCUS ON HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN 2022 Healthy Eating & Exercise are Key Ingredients to Great Health!

Challenge yourself and your family to make healthy choices in the new year! As we ring in 2022, many of us think of ways to stay healthy and fit, both mentally and physically. Snellville offers many opportunities to experience better health and wellness. Take a walk or ride a bike on the Greenway Trail that provides residents and visitors alike with a safe and fun path into the heart of downtown with future connections to Gwinnett’s vast trail system and beyond. Briscoe Park offers many trails to walk on and along the way you will find exercise equipment to give you an extra boost. Refresh and relax at Serenity Salt Cave, a stunning therapeutic space, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia. The cave is constructed from natural pink Himalayan salt and the air is infused with rich negative ions, known for their healing power. Salt therapy takes wellness to another level. Sign up for Run the Reagan scheduled for February 26, 2022, whether you are looking to get a better race time or simply want to get outside to exercise. Stop by the award-winning Snellville Farmers’ Market the first and third Saturday of each month behind City Hall where you are sure to find all the fresh produce, baked goods, seafood and fresh meat you will need for the week.

STAY WITH US! Hampton Inn & Suites • LaQuinta Inn & Suites • InTown Suites Book a party in one of our hotels’ meeting rooms or plan a fun get away weekend. SHOP | DINE | LODGE IN SNELLVILLE


Health and Wellness Pickleball trend drawing people to courts locally

^^^ PICKLES ANYONE? - Snellville resident Kristy By Gretchen Schulz, Councilwoman Did you know that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America? According to the Columbia Association, five years ago there were 500,000 active pickleball players. In 2021 that number jumped to 2.5 million. Pickleball is a court sport played on a badminton-sized court with the net set at 34 inches at the center. A perforated plastic ball and a paddle about twice the size of a ping pong paddle are used to play the sport. It can be played indoors or outdoors and, while easy for a beginner to learn, it can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game. Snellville resident Kristy Kind is among those competitive players. She recently qualified to play at the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championship in Indian Wells, California. Approximately 2,000 players are invited to play in the exclusive tournament. She played both women’s doubles and mixed doubles in the tournament. “I’m very competitive,“ said Kind, who previously played tennis, but began focusing on pickleball in 2018.

Kind recently qualified to play at the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championship in Indian Wells, California.

“Picklers,” as the players are known, cite aerobic exercise and social connection as benefits of the sport. “It’s the social aspect of the game I really enjoy. I like to meet new people and it seems that everyone who plays is happy and friendly,” Kind said. In Snellville, the sport can be played at Summit Chase Country Club. Two lighted courts are currently available with more being planned, according to General Manager Don Britt. The club has a certified instructor who offers beginner classes as well as weekly drills. For more information go to the pickleball tab on the Summit Chase Country Club website: www.summitchasecc.com. Pickleball courts are also available at several Gwinnett County parks, including Bay Creek Park in Loganville, Rhodes Jordan Park in Lawrenceville and Mountain Park Park in Lilburn. The J. M. Tull Gwinnett Family YMCA in Lawrenceville also has pickleball courts. A recent survey of T.W. Briscoe Park users determined pickleball was highly desired and plans to build courts may be included when upgrades to the park take place in the future. 3

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Special Edition 2022 - Volume 49 Publisher/Editor: Kelly McAloon Editor: Brian Arrington

Happy 2022! A New Year... A New You! If you’re like me, most of you were anxious to see the new year roll in as 2021 proved to be another tough year for many. With the Covid Delta and Omicron variants spreading so quickly, it took a toll on many of us, including me. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get your vaccinations and booster shots to minimize symptoms and protect you against severe illness, if you should become infected. After a year full of many challenges, 2022 is a time for us to heal in body, spirit and mind, and a time to be patient and kind to one another. Together we are strong and together we can overcome anything. I encourage each one of you to support local business in Snellville that will continue to keep our community strong. It is so important to shop local if we want the businesses that are here, to stay here. Let’s all do our part to help make our community shine. Our board of directors, executive director and administrative assistant will be meeting for our annual retreat in January to start the planning process to bring Snellville only the very best in 2022. Stay healthy and safe,

Don

Don Britt, President, Experience Snellville

Connecting our Community to Celebrate Snellville 4

Snellville Spirit Magazine is produced by: Snellville Tourism & Trade Association

P.O. Box 669 • Snellville, GA 30078 Website: www.snellvilletourism.com Snellville Tourism and Trade Association’s mission is to promote business, tourism and events in the City of Snellville. President Don Britt Treasurer Kurt Schulz Secretary Kathy Emanuel Board Member Lucy DeForest Board Member Jared Eakins Board Member Melvin Everson Board Member Alice Snipes Board Member Andrew Yee Board Member Stephanie McDonald Executive Director Kelly McAloon Administrative Assistant Jessica Manis City Council Mayor Barbara Bender, Mayor Pro Tem Dave Emanuel, Cristy Lenski, Gretchen Schulz, Tod Warner and Solange Destang City Website: www.snellville.org Magazine Design by Brian Arrington, Kelly McAloon and pcoxcreative Magazine Cover Design by pcoxcreative Contributing Writers and Photographers: Kelly McAloon, Don Britt, Brian Arrington, Gretchen Schulz, Barbara Bender, pcoxcreative, Franchesca Thompson, Rafiq Ukani, Lisa Sperling, Greg Perry, Lee Gaitan and Meghan Meegan


CONTENTS

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16 26

6

Snellville’s mayor is ringing in The New Year.

6

Is your street on the list of 2022 Public Works projects?

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Snellville police bolsters K-9 Unit.

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The latest on the city’s ambitious mixed-use development.

MAYOR’S MESSAGE

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Find out how to grow in the city’s community garden.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

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Inside the local school’s ESL program.

EVERY DOG HAS ITS DAY

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The latest from South Gwinnett and Brookwood.

THE GROVE AT TOWNE CENTER

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Check out which local graduates are doing great things.

FARM FRESH

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Parks and Rec. car show boosts annual SPD giving event.

PARKS AND REC.

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Thousands of food items and toys are donated during contest.

WELCOME TO SNELLVILLE

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Scenes from the annual holiday parade and tree lighting.

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The Snellville Farmers’ Market is looking for vendors.

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What’s going on at Snellville’s parks and Senior Center.

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New businesses are opening in Snellville.

COMMUNITY GARDEN BEDS GWINNETT TECH NEWS BLACKBOARD REPORT

EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE SHOP WITH A COP

FESTIVAL OF TREES TREE LIGHTING

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Mayor’s Message - Mayor Barbara Bender If we thought 2020 could not possibly be worse, along came 2021! While 2020 taught us flexibility and adaptability, the 2021 year taught us perseverance. As we enter into this new year with Covid still around us, let us continue to support each other and our businesses as we all figure out how to live with this virus. This past year also brought us good things and a lot progress in the city. We broke ground on The Grove at Snellville Towne Center and construction is in full swing. The new Elizabeth Williams Library is underway as well. Phase one of the Greenway Trail was completed and the phase two connection from The Grove to T.W. Briscoe Park is in progress; with construction slated to begin in the next few months. We made progress on plans for the next improvements to be made at T.W. Briscoe Park. Our events were back as well, allowing us all an opportunity to get out and reconnect with each other. As we embark together on this new year, I propose we all support a citywide New Year’s resolution of kindness, patience

and respect toward one another. Let’s set aside hostility and intolerance and focus on our desire to make our city a place we can all be proud to be a part of. We have a clean slate to write a story of how we found common ground and broadened our understanding of each other. We can make tremendous progress if we just start here. Your hard-working city council will be doing just that this month at our annual retreat. We will find our common ground and set the goals for the coming year. Please let me know of any issues or concerns you would like us to address. I wish you all peace, comfort and joy in this new year.

Let’s set aside hostility and intolerance and focus on our desire to make our city a place we can all be proud to be a part of. We have a clean slate to write a story of how we found common ground and broadened our understanding of each other.

Snellville Public Works Public Works announces upcoming construction project for 2022 The City of Snellville Public Works wants you to beware of the upcoming construction for the New Year 2022. Public Works’ annual stormwater contract has been awarded to The Dickerson Group Inc. Be on the lookout for these projects to start and be completed by June 2022. The following locations are 3271-3260 Grand Central Drive, 2078 Eastwood Drive 1784-1805 Skyland Glen Drive 2615-2624 Shaywen Circle, 2951 Brooks Drive, 2893 Brooks Drive, 2915 Fallow Ridge, 2851 Overwood Drive, 2018 Harbour Oaks Drive/2423 Shipshire Place, 2338-2339 Radbury Lane, 2368-2379 Radbury Lane and 2369-2409 Radbury Lane. As construction start dates become available, Public Works will update our website at snellville.org/public-works. We wish you a safe and happy 2022 New Year. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Public Works Department with any questions you may have by calling 770-985-3527. 6

Where Everybody’s Proud to be Somebody


Snellville Police Department <<< IN THE BAG - The Snellville Police Department recently announced its partnership with a nonprofit that provides book bags filled with overnight essentials. Adventure Bags is designed to serve displaced children across the state of Georgia offering them bookbags filled with overnight essentials and comfort items during uncertain times. For more information on the program and to donate visit adventurebags.org.

Snellville Police Department adds officers to ranks of K-9 Unit There will be a few more Snellville Police Department officers protecting residents soon. Officers Nick Moore and Caleb Cooper began their K-9 training in early January and will be joined by two new K-9 officers.

K-9 RIGGS

K-9 MOJO PHARRIS

Moore is an experienced K-9 handler, and will be teamed up with his new partner K-9 Riggs. Cooper is a new K-9 handler and is excited to be part of the SPD K-9 Unit. Cooper will be partnered with K-9 Mojo Pharris. Mojo is named after Marcy Pharris who was an adored member of the Snellville Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association. Both officers will be performing their training in the Athens area, and it will last approximately eight weeks.

Riggs and Mojo were purchased with forfeited drug funds along with funds from the CPA Alumni Association.

Motorists urged to drive sober and safe in 2022 by SPD The Snellville Police Department urges residents to not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In 2021 the police department has made nearly 150 DUI charges involving those operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of substances. “The Snellville Police Department has always had a strong stance in apprehending those that operate a vehicle that are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs,” SPD Chief Greg Perry said. “We encourage all to make smart decisions and to use a designated driver or ride share option if they are impaired.” The most recent data provided by the Governor’s Office of Highway safety indicates that nearly 25 percent of all Georgia traffic related fatalities are linked to impaired drivers.

<<< HELPING OUT The City of Snellville recently delivered nearly 500 pounds of baby products to the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative. City employees gathered baby food, wipes, diapers and many other items to help support those in need in the Snellville community. The effort was organized by the Snellville Police Department.

SPD H.E.A.T. Officers and the Snellville Cop Cab will remain vigilant in our community educating the public about the dangers of driving under the influence. 7


The Grove at Towne Center

City celebrates topping out of Grove Parking Deck By Brian Arrington, Public Information Officer City of Snellville and Gwinnett County officials, as well as members of Winter Construction, along with The Grove co-developers CASTO and MidCity, gathered on Dec. 2, for a topping out ceremony for The Grove at Towne Center’s parking garage. Vertical construction is now complete on the five-level parking deck which houses 750 parking spaces to be used for all of the site’s offerings including over 50,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, office and entertainment space, as well as approximately 250 multi-family luxury apartments and the two-story Elizabeth Williams library. The Grove’s luxury residential apartments will surround the deck on three sides and feature an ornamental glass stair case on the east side that will provide beautiful views of the Elizabeth Williams library as well as the mercantile retail space and Grove Towne Green. “We are continually amazed at the transformation of Snellville’s skyline as construction at The Grove at Towne Center continues,” said Mayor Barbara Bender. “We are proud of the quality work construction crews have completed at the 750-space parking deck and are looking forward to seeing their work continue as The Grove nears its late 2022 opening date.” The Grove at Towne Center is a large scale, mixed-use town center property, comprising 18 acres between Oak Road, Wisteria Drive, North Road and Clower Street, in downtown Snellville. The Grove at Towne Center’s first phase is expected for completion in late 2022 and is envisioned to be a place, where community and commerce meet. 8

Clockwise, from top left: Mayor Barbara Bender; Kyle Mills, project manager, Winter Construction; and City Manager Butch Sanders speak at the topping out ceremony at The Grove at Towne Center’s Parking Deck last month.

Where Everybody’s Proud to be Somebody


The Grove at Towne Center

<<< ROUND AND ROUND - Mayor and Council awarded a contract to build a roundabout at Wisteria Drive and Clower Street as part of The Grove at Towne Center road improvements, last month. City officials say the roundabout will help move traffic at the often busy intersection as traffic will increase more when The Grove opens by the end of this year. The $1.6 million contract to low bidder OhmShiv of Lawrenceville also includes right in/right out access at North and Oak roads and curb/sidewalk improvements on all roads in the development. The cost of the construction will come from Special Local Option Sales Tax funds. This will be the third roundabout in city limits, in addition to the ones at North and Pharrs roads and Pharrs Road and Ridgedale Drive.

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Snellville Farmers’ Market

(Left) Deb Petersen of Petersen’s Bakery is one of the many vendors who works the Snellville Farmers’ Market in the summer. (Right) George High of Cedar Seeder Wellness Farm sells microgreens at the summer SFM.

Market looking for vendors for Summer season By Gretchen Schulz, Councilwoman, SFM Organizer

mushrooms, boiled peanuts, and locally raised poultry (with required licenses). If you, or someone you know, might qualify, please go to our website for the vendor application.

Are you interested in becoming a vendor at the Snellville Farmers’ Market?

In the meantime, be sure to come see us at our “extended season” market.

Beginning in February, the market will consider applications for the 2022 summer season market, which will be held every Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., June through September, on the Towne Green. The application will be posted on the market website, SnellvilleFarmersMarket.com.

The twice-a-month market, held through May 2022, has attracted more than 30 vendors who offer a nice variety of products, including seasonal produce, baked goods, jams and jellies, honey, eggs, beef, pork, and made-to-order pizza.

Our market is a producer-only market, which requires that sellers must grow or make the products they offer. The market’s primary mission is to provide the community with access to locally grown and raised agricultural products, but market administrators do approve a limited number of other products such as locally made baked goods, body care products, candles and crafts. There are a few new products the market would especially like to consider for the next season, including fresh pasta, cheeses,

As a rule, the “extended season” markets are held the first and third Saturdays each month, 9 a.m. to noon in the City Hall parking lot. The one exception is January when markets are scheduled for the second and fourth Saturdays since the first Saturday is New Year’s Day. If you wish to receive the Snellville Farmers Market newsletter, please send your email address to snellvillefarmersmarket@ gmail.com. Also follow us on Instagram and on our Facebook page where you will find an updated list of vendors prior to each market. 11


Snellville Parks and Recreation Briscoe Park is open daily 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 770-985-3535 Oak Road Park 1925 Oak Road (Passive neighborhood park) Park office is open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on registration and classes, check out the Parks and Recreation Department on Snellville’s website at www.snellville.org/parks-recreation. Please “like” our Facebook page for more information on our upcoming events and happenings: www.facebook.com/SnellvilleParks. GGLeagues is offering the ultimate Recreational Esports gaming experience for all ages & leagues run during all four seasons. Registration is open for the winter league. Multiple games are offered including “Madden21,” “Rocket League,” “Fortnite,””Mario Kart,” and “Super Smash Bros.” Information: app.ggleagues.com/organization/snellville Non-profit organization the Generals Athletic Club, offers sport programs and mentorship to the Snellville and Shiloh community. Information: www.gac-sports.org All-In FC offers recreational and academy/ select youth soccer programs at Briscoe Park. Information: www.allinfcsnellville.com National Youth Flag Football offers youth flag football at Briscoe Park. Practices and games will take place on Sundays. For more information visit www.falconsflagfootball.com For information about adult sports visit www.quickscores.com/ snellville. For information on tennis instruction, clinics, camps, & leagues by certified tennis instructors at Briscoe Park visit www.aetennis. com or call 470-417-4547. Outdoor tennis courts are available on a firstcome-first-served basis without lights daily from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. Not all of the courts may be available at all times if tennis Instructor or USTA team are utilizing the courts.

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Snellville Parks and Recreation

The Snellville Senior Center is for active adults that are 55 and older and is located next to Snellville City Hall. Membership is $25 for Gwinnett County Residents, $15 for City Limit Residents and $30 for those outside of Gwinnett County. The Senior Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For class times, dates and fees, call 770-985-3580. Check out our FB page at facebook.com/snellvilleseniorcenter. Aerobics Free with membership Mondays and Thursdays 9:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Pilates/Yoga $3 per class Tuesdays 10 a.m. Painting Group Free style - No instructor First and third Thursdays at 1 p.m. Crochet and knitting Free with membership 12 p.m., Tuesdays Spanish classes Offered for beginners, intermediate and advanced speakers All week, call 770-985-3580 for times and days Also: Daytrips and Overnight Trips Pinochle Bible Study Self Defense for Seniors Bowling Card-making classes Piano Sewing/Quilting Classes

Beginning computer, smartphone and tablet classes coming soon. Billiards Bingo (First Fridays) Aerobic Exercise and weight room Line Dancing Zumba

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Ribbon Cuttings

If you are are opening a new business in Snellville, give us a call, we’d like to meet you and welcome you to Snellville! Call 770-985-3517 for more information.

NEW BUSINESS

<<< EVENT CENTER: City and Snellville Tourism and

Trade officials welcomed Snellville’s newest business Dec. 10 as a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place for Center Stage Events, located at 2455 Heritage Village, Suite 11. The business is an event space for parties and weddings among other uses. For more information visit centerstageevents.org.

By Brian Arrington, Public Information Officer A five-story, 102-room Hampton Inn & Suites will be built in the city following a unanimous vote by the Mayor and Council earlier this year. The 64,400-square-foot building will be located in Park Place, a development located at the corner of Pharrs Road and Scenic Highway which recently saw the grand opening of Cracker Barrel, Freddie’s, Zaxby’s and Aspen Dental. >>> TOOL TIME - City and Snellville Tourism and Trade officials were on hand at thewould ‘boardcause cutting’ There had been concerns the hotel traffic issues at the at the new but, Tool according Rental facility at Lowe’s Homedaily trips would busy intersection, to the developers, Improvement, at 1615 Scenic be reduced by nearlylocated two thirds of what wasHighway, previously approved for Dec. 16. The new restaurant. facility is the fourth of its kind in a 12,000-square-foot the state. Snellville Tourism and Trade Executive Director thanked Lowe’slimited-service for being “There is a Kelly need McAloon in the city for a quality hotel great community partner, whileCorridor Mayor Pro in theaScenic Highway Commercial asTem there are very Emanuel had thetohonor of while using astaying saw to in cutthe area,” said fewDave options for travelers utilize a board, officially opening facility. “Eastside Planning and Development Director Jasonthe Thompson. Medical Center, adjacent restaurants, retail businesses and neighboring residents could all benefit from having a nice Hampton

Inn & Suites by Hilton within the city. Finally, Hampton Inn & Suites, under the Hilton (Hotels) umbrella, has a reputation for being a high-quality brand and product that would be an asset to the city for many years to come.” And just this month, paperwork was filed to bring an Outback Steakhouse to Park Place.

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Community Garden

Garden accepting bed rental applications By Gretchen Schulz, Councilwoman, Garden Organizer It may seem early to start thinking about fresh, red-ripe tomatoes that are bursting with flavor. Or just-picked squash or okra. How about fresh herbs like basil, oregano and rosemary that add a punch of flavor to many dishes? You can also brighten your home with colorful zinnias and sunflowers. All of these—and much more—can be grown in a bed at the Community Garden @ Snellville. The garden, which is located across from the city’s Recycling Center in Briscoe Park, is accepting applications from gardeners who wish to rent a bed. Priority will be given to current gardeners who wish to maintain their bed. Then new gardeners are assigned to any remaining beds. The garden year starts on April 1. Beds are available in two sizes: 4’ x 8’ and 4’ x 12’. In addition to maintaining their bed, all gardeners are expected to contribute some time to the maintenance of common areas of the garden.

Work sessions lasting about two hours are scheduled every couple months. For additional information and an application, please go to the garden website: www.snellvillecommunitygarden.com.

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Economic Development

Gwinnett Tech offers outlet for ESL students By Lee Gaitan, Gwinnett Technical College In the past several years, Gwinnett County has become a melting pot of cultures, with more than 25% of residents being born outside the United States and upwards of 100 different languages being spoken. Along with new opportunities, international newcomers face many challenges, the indisputably biggest one being learning English. Enter the English as a Second Language Program of Gwinnett Technical College’s Continuing Education Department. The program offers classes from basic beginning to high advanced and has helped hundreds of students learn or perfect their grammar, conversation, and writing skills.

“The educational level and professional accomplishments of many of our students is quite impressive. I regularly have physicians, engineers, and attorneys in my classes.”

“Our program is designed to address the needs of learners at every level,” explains Director, International Education, Stephanie Garcia. “Our classes are academically focused and highly engaging. 16

Where Everybody’s Proud to be Somebody


Economic Development Our teachers are committed to taking students to a high level of fluency. We want our students to do more than learn survival English. We want them to be active learners and gain the language proficiency they need to succeed.” Students in the program come from countries across the globe and from every walk of life. Many have come to the U.S. seeking better job or educational opportunities while some others are current students in their home countries and are visiting here to perfect their English skills. More and more of the program’s enrollees are professionals who have left their countries due to economic or political upheaval, and still others are here because of a spouse’s job transfer. Many hope to gain the language ability they need to resume their professional careers here. “The educational level and professional accomplishments of many of our students is quite impressive. I regularly have physicians, engineers, and attorneys in my classes” said ESL teacher, Ghadeer Shuhaibar “Their level of knowledge can even be a little intimidating, but our students are so gracious and grateful for the chance to study with us.” Classes often comprise a cross-section of ages and cultures. It’s not unusual to have a 20-year-old university student from South Korea sitting next to an experienced surgeon from Venezuela, explain GTC instructors. But in the ESL classroom, they emphasize, everyone is on equal footing, all united against the common enemy of the confounding and convoluted English language. “There is such great camaraderie in our classrooms,” echoes Garcia. “Often students from countries that have an adversarial political relationship develop true friendships in our classes.” The learning in the GTC program, however, is not a one-way street. To a person, instructors agree they have learned so much from their students. “I have the best job ever,” stresses Garcia “I get a free trip around the world every time I step in my classroom.” The biggest takeaway from her years as an ESL instructor and program director, adds Garcia, is seeing how we are all so much more alike than different. “Parents the world over worry about providing for their children; husbands from everywhere joke about their wives shopping too much while all the wives roll their eyes at such stereotyping. And grandmas from Burma to Bosnia mist up when talking about their grandchildren. Everyone in our program is truly grateful for the lessons of the ESL classroom.” 17


South Gwinnett High School

^^^ SGHS HOLIDAY SPIRIT - If you have lived in Snellville for a while, you may have noticed something different this holiday season. South Gwinnett High School has a blue holiday glow that can be seen from Highway 78. This year South Gwinnett is set to Rekindle the Spark and Shine in and out of the school building. This is part of their theme as students returned to school this year from the pandemic. The holiday decorations are truly a pick-me-up- for all that drive past the school each day. Principal Dorothy Jarrett said she feels that the decorations have played a vital role in bringing smiles into the building and community. #PROUD2BAComet >>> CODE JAM - The Comet Cluster participated in a CODE JAM as part of the worldwide Hour of Code event - hourofcode.com/us - held during Computer Science Education Week! Third through 12th grade students from our cluster schools came to South Gwinnett High School on Saturday, Dec. 11 to join in on the largest STEM learning event in the history of South Gwinnett. Students were engaged for over two hours in hands-on computer science activities including Arduino boards with microprocessors, Sphero Robots, and Code.org coding activities. Students, parents, and staff alike expressed how much they enjoyed this event. The STEM Academy is looking forward to hosting CODE JAM again next year!

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Brookwood High School BHS to reach fundraising goal ahead of time Since September 2014, when the Brookwood High School announced its M1M March to One Million charity fundraising challenge, its students and staff have collectively raised more than $890,000 for local and national organizations. Despite the yearand-a-half halt in fundraising activity due to the pandemic, the school remains on track to raise $1 million two years earlier than the original target date of May 2025. Brookwood’s charitable fundraisers have taken the form of competitions, auctions, special events, and sales—some open to the public and some run exclusively for students or staff to contribute. The 2021 Haunted F-Hall funhouse event involved more than 100 student volunteers from Brookwood’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Drama Club and collected more than $5,500 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). Students transformed a section of the school to captivate and scare more than 500 ticket buyers from the community. Over the past seven years, SGA’s Haunted F-Hall has raised more than $20,000 for charity. The club also hosts movie nights for the community; the winter showing of “Home Alone” brought in another $2,500 in donations to CHOA. By May 2022, Brookwood is expected to surpass $100,000 in donations for CHOA in seven years. Brookwood faculty and staff coordinate their own annual chili cookoff for charity, this year bringing in nearly $850 for United Way. Teacher Kyle Chambers won this year with his Bacon-AMess recipe. Staff members also contribute to United Way directly from their paychecks and have raised more than $40,000 from “Jeans Day” passes and donations to Brookwood’s Healthy Hands and Hearts. HHH is a Brookwood non-profit organization that assists families and students in the community who have fallen on hard times; it strives to make school life for the children as close to normal as possible by supporting them in fundamental and special ways.

members and Merge Mentors program collected almost four times more than the school down the road. By coordinating its annual Club Olympics cross-section of clubs in friendly games, classroom competitions for student perks, and a $1-a-spin prize wheel in The Commons during lunch, Brookwood raised nearly $3950 for St. Jude. Several days a week, Brookwood’s Key Club and SGA members sell Chick-fil-A biscuits from the locally owned restaurants on Scenic and Stone Mountain highways. In all, biscuit sales have generated more than $40,000 in charitable proceeds since 2014. Brookwood experienced a record fundraising year this fall, and spring semester looks just as hopeful with a likely Miracle Network event in the works, a walkathon for hunger, a carnival/ student showcase, and an Enlight (Ted Talks-like) conference. Every year there is a large community carnival and student-run thrift store event that raises funds, too. The carnival event is put on by multiple organizations with volunteers, and the thrift store is put on by BOSS, Brookwood’s Chick-fil-A Leader Academy. These, along with pie-in-the-face challenges and coordinated canned food drives, regularly remind students about the importance of giving back and help Brookwood nurture more upstanders in the community.

Each year, Brookwood asks its guided study/homeroom teachers and their students to raise money for HHH in exchange for student perks and the satisfaction of helping a worthy cause. The challenge taps the teachers’ ingenuity and competitive nature. Science teacher Chris Keyser alone raised $1,214 by auctioning off the rights to swap out a family photo on his desk, to color his beard, to have full access to his padded rolling chair for the rest of the semester, and more. Latin teachers Katie Rossino, Lindsey Campbell, Ashley Allgood, and Lucy Romero sold hot chocolate during class breaks to raise an additional $715. Over the course of a week, teachers raised $5,056 for HHH, and the school’s Beta Club contributed an additional $600 in gift cards to the cause. This year as part of a weeklong competition against rival Parkview High School to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Brookwood’s Gwinnett Student Leadership Team

^^^ IT’S OFFICIAL - Brookwood High School is now the largest public high school in the state with more than 3,900 students enrolled, according to BHS Principal Bo Ford. 19


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Extraordinary People Snellville-area high school graduates are leaving their marks on the national stage. From business, to sports, to philanthropy, these people with local roots are making Snellville proud! Childhood best friends and South Gwinnett High School graduates Tim Samuel and Dwayne Walker came up with the idea for Sparketh after using art and creativity to grow personally. They had a vision for creating a site that taught kids every creative subject, and thus, Sparketh was born. Sparketh is an at-home solution for kids and teens to learn art. And recently the duo were featured on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank,’ promoting their business. Sparketh provides more than 1,000 art class videos, from Manga Characters to Elements of Art and Design to Painting with Acrylics. Courses can be sorted by skill level as well as by subject and course type. Sparketh membership costs $25/month or $250/annually. Learn more at sparketh.com/. Samuel and Walker were seen recently riding with Councilman Tod Warner in the annual Snellville Christmas Parade.

Airbnb cofounder and airbnb.org chairman Joe Gebbia loves his alma mater Brookwood High School so much, he gave the school $700,000. A graduate of the school 21 years ago, Gebbia enjoyed art classes and running track. Now he’s paying it forward, donating $500,000 to the school’s visual arts program and $200,000 to pay for a new track and new apparel for the team. ‘The timing felt right, something I’d been thinking about for quite a while,’ Gebbia told website FastCompany.com. ‘While I’m doing more philanthropy in my life now than I had before, this is easier for me to circle back to. This is a special place that helped form and shape me.’ Gebbia told FastCompany.com he credits his athletics experiences with teaching him that he could do anything he set his mind to, a philosophy which he carried into the business world.. ‘The cross-county team was really a moment in my life where I realized no matter how much I wanted to quit — whether in the middle of a race or in the middle of practice — there was always more in me to keep going,’ Gebbia told FastCompany.com. ‘It doesn’t matter what kind of company it is. Everyone will tell you of the hardships they endured to bring their ideas and business into the world. It certainly was the case for us in the early days of Airbnb. There were lot of times when things were not going in our favor and it would’ve been really easy to give up. There was a willpower that I bring.’ South Gwinnett High School graduate Marc Davis Jr. was recently drafted by the Washington Nationals. In the 11th round (323rd overall), the Nationals drafted the junior college right-hander out of Florida SouthWestern State College. Davis, a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder went 4-1 with a 3.34 ERA in 35 innings this season in college ball. Davis, 21, made five starts and recorded two saves for the Buccaneers. He is a 2018 alumni of Snellville’s own South Gwinnett High School and recent graduate of Florida Southwestern State College in Ft. Myers Florida. He has a 98 MPH fastball and bright future. He is the son of Marc and Merisa Davis. You may have seen Davis and SGHS Baseball Coach Ryan Patterson ride in the recent Snellville Christmas Parade.

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Shop with a Cop City departments team up to brighten Christmas By Brian Arrington, Public Information Officer Christmas was made extra special this year for needy children in the Snellville area as the annual Shop with a Cop program took place at the Wal-Mart on Scenic Highway, Dec. 8. For the first time in the program’s local history, Snellville Police Department teamed up with Snellville Parks and Recreation to better the holiday season for kids in need. The Parks and Recreation Department donated $2,480 to go toward gifts the children could choose at Wal-Mart. The money was collected via donations and fundraisers during the Georgia Cool Cruisers classic car in November which drew more than 120 cars. “Our officers look forward to participating in the Shop with a Cop program each year, and there is no better joy for us than to make some of our local kid’s Christmas a little brighter,” said Chief Greg Perry. Police and city officials helped the 16 families and more than 30 children pick out items at the store. “We at the Parks and Recreation Department were proud to team up with Georgia Cool Cruisers and the Snellville Police Department to offer these children a chance to have a better Christmas,” said Parks and Recreation Director Lisa A. Platt, CPRP. “It is great to see city groups work together to give back to the community.” The Snellville Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association also helped organize the event. Mary Fergus and other SCPAAA members were there assisting the officers shop with the children.

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Where Everybody’s Proud to be Somebody


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Local Families Need Your Help If you’re like most people living in the Snellville area, you or your children have probably never been forced to miss a meal because you had no food & no money to buy any. You may not even know of anyone who faces hunger on a regular basis.

Yet, many local families are in that unfortunate situation. For the past eleven years, Give Hunger the Boot has focused on kicking hunger out of Snellville by assisting the Southeast Gwinnett Food CoOp. But,

Some Local Children are Still Hungry The Southeast Gwinnett Food Co-Op’s mission is to help people by serving as a bridge over a financial gap, not to build a dependency lifestyle. According to Laura Drake, director of the Co-Op, the need for donations is critical. Unfortunately, many people have to deal with hunger on a 24/7/365 basis.

There are many ways to donate. To donate online:

SEGwinnettCoop.org/donate

Some of the locations accepting food donations: Snellville City Hall Snellville Public Works United Community Bank Snellville and Gwinnett Animal Hospital (McGee Road) Financial donations may be made at: Snellville City Hall Legacy Beverage Center (Hwy 78, Loganville) Mellow Mushroom Snellville

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Sixth Annual Festival of Trees Many thanks to all those who participated in the 6th Annual Festival of Trees and to all those who generously donated food items and toys. We were very excited to donate a total of 9,353 items to the Southeast Gwinnett Co-op and Toys for Tots this year. Congratulations to W.C. Britt Elementary for winning best tree by receiving 3,904 items that registered as votes.

St. Oliver’s Plunkett Catholic Church

Snellville Lion’s Club

The Exceptional Foundation of Atlanta

Lion’s Club

BenchMark Physical Therapy Snellville/Grayson

Snellville Historical Society

All food items were donated to the Southeast Gwinnett Co-op to “Give Hunger the Boot” and all the toys were donated to the “Toys for Tots” program.

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Snellville Christmas Tree

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Many thanks to Team Snellville Volunteers,


Lighting Family Fun in 2021!

Snellville Police Department and Public Works

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The Grove at Towne Center is becoming a reality! Gwinnett’s newest live/work/play community will be here in December, 2022. An active Town Green surrounded by 250 luxury apartments, a Gwinnett County library, restaurants, retail/office space and a unique City Market will become the heart of Snellville and the region. Email info@snellville.org for more information.

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Snellville, Where Everybody is Proud to be Somebody.


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